Lincoln (2012) vs. Thirteen Days (2000)

November 8, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

You’ve heard about all the Kennedy/Lincoln coincidences by now. Some of them are even true. But did you know that Kennedy and Lincoln both have had movies made about pivotal moments in their presidencies? Yeah, I guess you probably did know that. The long list of movie Lincolns includes such notable stars as Henry Fonda, Walter Huston and now, in Steven Spielberg’s new film, Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis, while Kennedy has been assayed by, among others, Cliff Robertson, James Franciscus and Bruce Greenwood, who played our youngest President in the true-to-life political thriller, Thirteen Days.

But did you know that I just happened to watch both Lincoln and Thirteen Days in the same week? […]

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM: Republican National Convention (2012) -vs- Democratic National Convention (2012)

September 6, 2012 Mark Sanchez

In less than two months Americans will write the final chapter of the recurring reality show we once called the presidential election. Former Massachusetts Governor Willard “Mitt” Romney emerged from testy GOP Smackdown primaries with his haircut intact. President Barack Obama didn’t have a Democrat opponent, but faced a tougher job: He had to govern during the run-up to the conventions.

Now the conventions are over, and it’s our turn to cast a pre-vote of sorts. Just how well – as TV events – did the parties establish their candidates and focus their messages for November? […]

The Hunger Games (2012) -vs- The Running Man (1987)

March 23, 2012 Nicole Marchesani

President Snow (Donald Sutherland) shares his philosophy in this weekend’s blockbuster film, The Hunger Games, “The only thing stronger than fear is hope.” He and his kind have built their dystopia on this theory: if the people they subjugate don’t have a way to cope, they could get violent. Better to give them some pre-packaged violence and distract them.

The odds are stacked heavily against both Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games and Ben Richards of The Running Man to win in their own futuristic sporting arenas. But they are motivated to try, each having not just their own lives but the lives of the people they love at stake. While millions of people watch, they suffer and struggle to make it to the end. The only thing keeping them going is hope.

It seems harsh to subject these characters to another bloody arena, but as the films prove, audiences love a good fight. We can’t lie. So do we. […]

The Conspirator (2011) -vs- JFK (1991)

April 23, 2011 Bryce Zabel

Two presidents get assassinated, a hundred years apart. Both assassins (alleged, anyway) get killed before they can face trial, and they go down in history firmly attached to their middle names, John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald.

In these two films, the main characters are lawyers, drawn into the fray by a sense of justice, who end up arguing unpopular positions (at least to the powers-that-be) in court — the earlier film on offense, this latest film on defense. Both men pursue their out-of-step sense of justice to the extreme, so much so that the women in their lives think they’ve gone quite insane.

At the end of the day, both viewing experiences cause you to consider that maybe it’s not the courts that really decide the winners anyway, maybe it’s just the movies we make about them. […]